Friday, September 25, 2015

Just What Do You DO in the Library?

I remember the first time I walked into a real, honest-to-goodness library.  My elementary schools at
that time really only had small rooms (basically closets) with books that our teachers could check out for us - and one that was a little bit bigger that had someone sitting at a school desk where we could sign the check-out cards with our name and room number.  But I can still picture the scene in front of me when I walked into that public library for the first time.

I was seven or eight.  We had just moved to a new state, and for the first time had a really good public library system.  We walked through those doors and I was absolutely in heaven.  The shelves full of colorful books and people browsing through them.  The activity at the circulation desk.  But it was the smell that was vivid to me - partly the mustiness of some of the books - but also the glue that held the card pockets in the books and the clear cellophane-like dust jacket protectors.  I thought anyone who worked in a library was a librarian and didn't realize that a lot of the people I saw behind the counter were not actual librarians, but library support staff.

All this got my imagination going - when we would play at home my sisters wanted to "play school" but I wanted to "play library" and so we would take our personal books and make check-out cards and check those books out.  I didn't realize that a lot of things went on at the library that I didn't see and that the circulation of materials was only one of the many things that went on.

Fast forward nearly twenty years and I'm in library school.  Fortunately, I had learned by that time that librarians didn't check out books all day (or even most of the time since library support staff usually did those job duties).  They didn't get to read all day either (more's the pity).  I decided I wanted to be an academic librarian, and help with research and choose books, and the wide variety of things we do that even I didn't know about until I got my first job. 

So what DO librarians do? 

First of all, they get a graduate degree, usually a Master of Library Science or its equivalent and it is considered the terminal degree in the profession.  There are many derivations, ranging from MLS, MS, MLIS, MIS... the list goes on.  There are also doctorates in the profession, though about the only people who get those want to teach in library school.

As for duties, they usually fall within one or more the following, at least within an academic library:
Bibliographic organization of knowledge
  • Use/explain the Library of Congress classification scheme/subject headings
  • Use of appropriate bibliographic utilities
  • Use of cataloging functions of the integrated library system
  • Know MaRC (Machine Readable Cataloging developed by the Library of Congress)
  • Perform copy/original cataloging
  • Use non-Library of Congress methods of organization when appropriate
  • Develop internal organizational methods for archives/special collections
  • Setup/maintenance of in-house indexing and its access
Collection development & management
  • Read thousands of reviews each year
  • Select appropriate sources for the collection
  • Make decisions on weeding/retention/replacement of collections
  • Evaluate/maintain/update organization of physical facility in relation to effective use of collections
  • Assess collection for usages and effectiveness for users
  • Assess collection for curriculum support
  • Write reports for library section of program reviews
  • Keep appropriate material order records
  • Find the best discounts on books and other material
Instruction & information services
  • Conduct effective reference interviews
  • Help users define information needs
  • Instruct users in basic research, skills-based training, search queries, etc.
  • Develop tools (guides, FAQs, etc) to provide guidance
  • Help users evaluate information found
  • Identify/locate information in all formats
  • Assist users in retrieving materials both locally and off-site
  • Interpret bibliographic record/citation formats
  • Assess instruction and reference to determine effectiveness
Supervision & management
  • Participate in recruiting, hiring, training, evaluating, promoting all library staff
  • Set clear performance expectations linked to library strategies/priorities
  • Assess those strategies/priorities
  • Demonstrate leadership in team environment
  • Develop realistic goals/measurable objectives for the library's current/future needs
  • Assess those goals/measurable objectives
  • Request/defend/follow budget for library activities
  • Develop and refine assessment methods for areas of primary librarianship duties
  • Write reports - lots and lots and lots of reports

At ETBU and in most other colleges and universities the library are considered faculty.  As a result, in addition to the above there are professional duties that involve professional development & scholarship, university participation and service, and Christian commitment and community service - just as other faculty on campus.
We may or may not teach a formal class, but we are teachers each time we assist a user in their research, or show them how to write a citation in the APA (or Turabian, or CSE, or MLA), help a user form a great search query, or host an event that is informative and interesting (and hopefully fun).

Sounds a bit more complicated than what you thought?  You didn't realize there were so many things going on behind the scenes and at the forefront?  Don't worry, most people don't - and many of today's librarians didn't know at one time either.  

But yes, we do occasionally check out a book to you.

by Cynthia L. Peterson, MLS
Director of Library Services

Friday, August 21, 2015

All Me Duty to Ye!

Hej! Aloha! Dobar dan! Latha math! All me duty to ye!

You've just been greeted in five languages - Swedish, Hawaiian, Croatian, Scottish Gaelic, and Pirate.

Okay, Pirate isn't exactly a language, but you can still learn to speak like a Pirate and converse like a native in 70 other languages using the Mango Languages database.

Are you heading on a travel study trip next May? Perhaps you're searching your family history and found out some of your ancestors were from Greece or Finland, or perhaps Thailand. Whatever your reason for learning a language, this is the place to go.

Currently these languages are available (one caveat: some languages are less developed than others, mainly those that are new to the database - keep coming back to see what has been added):

American Sign Language - Arabic (Egyptian, Iraqi, Levantine, MSA) - Armenian - Azerbaijani - Bengali - Cherokee - Chinese (Mandarin) - Croatian - Czech - Danish - Dari - Dutch - Dzongkha - English - Farsi (Persian) - Finnish - French - French, Candian - German, Greek (Modern, Ancient, Koine) - Haitian Creole - Hawaiian - Hebrew (Modern, Biblical) - Hindi - Hungarian - Icelandic - Igbo - Indonesian - Irish - Italian - Japanese - Javanese - Kazakh - Korean - Latin - Malay - Malayalam - Norwegian - Pashto - Pirate - Polish - Portuguese (Brazilian) - Punjabi - Romanian - Russian - Scottish Gaelic - Serbian - Shakespeare English - Shangahinese - Slovak - Spanish (Latin America, Spain) - Swahili - Swedish - Tagalog - Tamil - Telugu - Thai - Turkish - Tuvan - Ukrainian - Urdu - Uzbek - Vietnamese - Yiddish.

To access Mango Languages go to the Library's home page at then click the link "Databases A to Z" and find the "M" tab, then find Mango Languages in the list.

The first time you do this you'll see both a log-in section or a registration link. If you haven't registered do so at this time, or if you have registered before just log in. Once logged in the system will keep up with what languages you are studying and which lesson you are working on. You may go back and revisit a lesson or portion of a lesson at any time, going on whenever you feel comfortable.

There are also mobile apps available for Android, Apple, Kindle (Fire), and Nook. Download the Mango app to any of these devices, log-in as you have registered yourself, then enjoy learning the language of your choice anywhere you want - Mango will continue to keep up with where you are and where you are going!

Spotlight on History...

Last year we added two history databases to our collections...U.S. History in Context and World History in Context.  Both are available through the GALE/Cengage Learning family of databases.

U.S. History in Context "puts the tools of the historian into the hands of students..."  It strives to
provide comprehensive coverage of the most-studied topics, from the arrival of Vikings in North America to Vietnam, Watergate, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  The database contains the expected journal articles, but also books, photographs, images, government documents, biographies, court cases, and streaming video.  Coverage includes African American Perspectives, American Colonies, the Supreme Court, Economics, Events, Decades, and Cultural Trends, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Political Constructs, Movements, and Organizations, and Wars & Conficts.

World History in Context helps the user "understand 5,000 years of civilization from a 21st-century framework.   It chronicles the rise and fall of cultures and societies across all continents and eras.  U.S. History in Context can also be found in this database, with broad subject coverage including international biography, countries, cultures and civilizations, economics, events, periods, and cultural trends, human rights, political constructs, movements and organizations, religions, as well as wars and conflicts.
Rare primary sources combine with reliable references to but content into context for every researcher.  Formats such as those found in the

Both databases are also aligned to state and national curriculum standards, making it a valuable resource for history and social science teachers at all grade levels.

What's New for 2015-2016... So Far

As usual there are some additions in databases and other resources as we begin the new academic year.

Graduate students and faculty will find the ProQuest Dissertations & Theses - Section A: Humanities & Social Sciences helpful in their research, but upper level undergraduates  may also find it useful, particularly those working on Honors Papers.  It contains indexes and abstracts to master's theses and doctoral dissertations from around the country.  Anyone in the ETBU graduate programs who produces a thesis as part of their degree requirements can have their thesis added.  Anything found in PQDTA that was produced by student's in our master's programs is accessible in full text.  Dissertations and abstracts from outside our campus may be purchased for a fee.  The library will underwrite those fees (up to a certain point) for graduate students and faculty.

Newly acquired at the end of the 2014-2015 academic year was the Nursing Collection of Films on Demand.  The library already had access to the Academic Collection.  With these collections as well as smaller video collections found in other aggregate databases, the library now can access the equivalent of over 25,000 DVDs through the streaming video format.

We have added two more Naxos products.  The first was added in the late spring and it is the Naxos Spoken Word Audio Library, which contains a large collection of streaming audio devoted to literature, history, business, and many more disciplines, with new recordings being added monthly.  During the summer we also added the Naxos Works Database which is not a streaming audio collection, but instead information on specific works by major composers - such as when the work was composed, the first performance - even the artists who were involved in the first performances when that information is available.  This information can be very helpful in developing programs for concerts, recitals, and much more.

Although it's not new, you'll see a new look when you use TigerCat this year.  A recent upgrade also gave our online catalog a fresh, clean look.  We think you'll like it!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Do You Know What You Don’t Know?

“It is worse still to be ignorant of your own ignorance.” – Saint Jerome

Last year I was given a daily desk calendar (you know, those calendars you forget to tear off daily and so you end up ripping out a chunk every few weeks) that featured humorous answers given by students on tests. Mixed in with the often hilarious exam answers were quotes related to education. The entry from Wednesday, June 26 has been taped to my computer monitor in my office ever since. “It is worse still to be ignorant of your own ignorance.” This is a quote is taken from Saint Jerome’s (who is also the Patron Saint of Libraries) Letter 53 is a daily reminder and warning that yes, even as a librarian, I am constantly in danger of being ignorant of my own ignorance.

I see this play out in real time often when I visit classes to instruct students in the ways of becoming more information literate individuals. Recently, I listened as a student told her classmates that this class (meaning the one I was about to teach) was “really going to be a waste of time because I already have all of my stuff together.” Some might fear for my ego here, but my real concern is that often our students aren’t aware of their own ignorance when it comes to doing research. In fact, I see it as one of my main objectives anytime I talk to students whether I’m in a classroom or at the reference desk. Students – information seekers – often don’t know what they don’t know. As reference librarians we spend a great deal effort honing our skills in the interview process so that we can combat this problem. One of the hardest things about getting someone to the information that they need is actually finding out what it is that they think they need. You’d be surprised how often their actual question ends up being totally different than the one they started out asking.

One of the first steps in becoming information literate is to recognize a gap in your knowledge – or, to know that you don’t know. One way I’ve started being intentional about acknowledging the information gap that a student might have is to have them go find one piece of background information on their topic. It is so very common for a student who is new to research to think of it writing about what they already *think* they know and then just finding sources that support their argument.

Like most of us, students approach searching for information using familiar methods. They “Google.” They use Wikipedia. They sometimes even ask their friends. It feels like it should be easy in today’s information world to find out the answers to your questions. In many ways it is, but in more ways the influx of information makes it more difficult to narrow down where you should look for the truth. I read a statement recently that proposed that “a weekday edition of the New York Times contains more information than the average person was likely to come across in a lifetime in 17th century England.” (Of course, I would also agree with the criticism of this idea that really this would only take into account written information as it would be impossible to quantify conversations that went on about the weather and “how about that cricket match?”) In light of this information deluge, I’m able to take on the question about the future of libraries and librarians in the age of the internet by saying that now, possibly more than ever, having someone help you to navigate the information landscape is vital.